Guide dogs play an essential role in the lives of individuals with visual impairments, providing them with a newfound sense of independence and mobility. Guide dog owners are protected by a range of legal rights to ensure their equal access to public spaces, including shops and taxis. This blog post aims to shed light on the legal rights of guide dog owners when faced with refusal of entry into shops and taxis, and the steps they can take to assert their rights.

The Equality Act 2010: A Foundation of Rights

The cornerstone of guide dog owners’ rights in the UK is the Equality Act 2010. Under this legislation, it is unlawful for service providers, such as shops and taxi operators, to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, including those who rely on guide dogs. This means that guide dog owners have the right to access goods, services, and facilities just like any other customer.

Access to Shops

When it comes to entering shops and other retail establishments, guide dog owners have the right to be accompanied by their guide dogs. This includes all areas of the shop, such as aisles, counters, and changing rooms. Shop owners are not allowed to refuse entry to guide dog owners or treat them less favorably due to their disability. This extends to all types of shops, from supermarkets to small boutiques.

Access to Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles

Guide dog owners also have specific rights when it comes to using taxis and private hire vehicles. Under the Equality Act 2010, taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are legally obligated to carry guide dogs and their owners, unless they have a medical exemption certificate. It’s important to note that these drivers are not allowed to charge extra for accommodating the guide dog.

Exemptions and Reasonable Adjustments

While guide dog owners are granted significant legal protections, there are a few exemptions and scenarios where adjustments may be considered reasonable. For instance, if the presence of a guide dog poses a significant risk of allergic reactions to other customers or staff, it might be considered a valid reason for refusal. However, such cases would need to be assessed individually, and service providers must make every effort to find alternative solutions that don’t involve denying entry to the guide dog owner.

**Steps to Take in Case of Refusal**

If a guide dog owner is refused entry into a shop or taxi, there are several steps they can take to assert their rights:

  • Stay Calm: It’s important to remain composed and respectful while advocating for your rights.
  • Educate: Politely inform the individual or service provider about the legal rights of guide dog owners under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Request Reason: Ask for a clear and specific reason for the refusal. Understanding the rationale can help guide your response.
  • Collect Information: If possible, gather information about the incident, such as names, dates, and locations. This can be helpful if you decide to take further action.
  • Contact Authorities: If the situation isn’t resolved through communication, consider contacting local authorities, such as your local council or the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).
  • Seek Legal Advice: If the issue persists, seeking legal advice from organizations that undertake disability rights and discrimination law can provide valuable guidance on the appropriate steps to take.


Guide dog owners in the UK are protected by robust legal rights that ensure their equal access to public spaces, including shops and taxis. The Equality Act 2010 serves as a crucial framework for combating discrimination and promoting inclusivity. By understanding their rights and taking proactive steps in case of refusal, guide dog owners can assert their independence and contribute to a more accessible society for all.

If you have had any issues exerting your rights, please give one of our members of staff a call on 0161 850 9911.